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JouET Junior- {^ \\e*p 

... '■ x - ■ > 

♦♦♦\i \ 


Wordeater 76 Staff 

Steev Custer, C. K. Derrick, Maria Mellinger. Dawn Simmons. John Stobart 

In order to get a selection publisned in this issue, three of the above had to vote for acceptance 
For the award winners, only John Stobart is responsible. 

Manuscripts or cover designs for 

wordeater/ / 

must be submitted to John 
Stobart in room C-1069 by: 

October 4, 1991 

Manuscripts will not be returned 
and should by typed. 



$ 5 to Judy Belfield 
$ 5 to Eric Jensen 
$ 5 to Maria Mellinger 
$ 5 to Martin Nieznanski 
$ 5 to David Tieman 


$ 5 to Lisa Bucciarelli 
$ 5 to Nicole L. Byrnside 
$ 5 to Steev Custer 
$ 5 to Maria Mellinger 
$ 5 to Martin Nieznanski 


$ 20 to Shellie Smith 

Next Deadlines: 
October 4, 1991 
November 22, 1991 

All copyrights are retained by the authors, and materials may not be reprinted without their permission. 


Steev Custer Grand Prize: A Dream Date 1 

Maria Mellinger Meditations With Mike Luttrell 1 

Dawn Simmons Green Glass Bottle 2 

Jeff Hieks Why? 2 

Martin Nieznanski Mary Staynor's Bridge 3 

Steev Custer Sinister Summer 3 

NOTE: The preceding were accepted for WORDEATEK 75 but apace 
limitation! prevented their being printed in that iuue. 

Martin Nieznanski Sometimes 4 

Nicole L. Bymside Who Do You Love? 4 

Maria Mellinger The Keeper of the Bees S 

Eric Jensen The Boy in the Mist 5 

Steev Custer Poet in Plaid S 

Martin Nieznanski Care 6 

David Tieman A Haiku for Hippies 6 

Eric Jensen A Bleeding Trust 6 

Maria Mellinger He's A Business Man 6 

Martin Nieznanski The End of Love 6 
Maria Mellinger "Cool Tables" & The Snow flakes 7 

Dawn Mooney Dellwood Park 7 

Martin Nieznanski Adolescents 7 

Judy Belfield Second Moon 7 

Maria Mellinger We Eat and Drink While Tomorrow 7 

Lisa Bucciarelli A Fallen Star 8 

Maria Mellinger The Foundation 10 

Holly Bruns Free Writing 10 

David Tieman Soda Pop 1 

C. K. Derrick Tripping 1 

Maria Mellinger You Touch the Soft Skin 1 

Steev Custer I Don't Want To Return 1 

Judy Belfield Addiction 1 

Doncia Rampa Welcome 12 

Dawn Simmons To Bill 12 

Maria Mellinger I Feel My Depression 1 2 
Scott Johnson Have You Heard This One Before? 1 2 

Eric Jensen I Claw At Your Defenses 12 

Eric Jensen Backward Messages 13 

Jeff Hicks Sunglasses 13 

Maria Mellinger Frank O'Hara's Oranges 13 

Jeff Hicks Fog 13 

Judy Belfield Despair Prayer 13 

Smith Twenty -One 14 

Geoffrey Rusch Sensory Suicide 14 

David Tieman The Creative Writing Witch 14 

David Tieman A Haiku for You 14 

Maria Mellinger Overboard 14 

Nicole L. Bymside Bub 15 
Steev Custer Me, Grandpa, and The Great Pickle 15 

Maria Mellinger Yin And Yang 16 
Eric Jensen Don't Tell Me What I Run From 1 6 

Judy Belfield Invalid 16 

Dawn Mooney It's Hard For Me 1 7 

Martin Nieznanski With Me 17 

Maria Mellinger The Sweet Nicotine Fairy 17 

David Tieman Adults 1 7 

Lisa Bucciarelli 31 Flavors 17 

Maria Mellinger Here In St. Cloud's 

Jamie Stanek Dear God 

Martin Nieznanski Last Dance 

David Tieman Glittering Ball of Disco 

Martin Nieznanski Twisted Cycles 

Frank Sanchez Sense the End 


Maria Mellinger Having Learned & Psychedelicate 19 

Jim Miller True Friendship 19 

Judy Belfield Scraps 19 

C. K. Derrick Impromptu Sunrise 20 

David Tieman A Fight With A Kite 20 

Eric Jensen She Wore 20 

Steven Custer Stolen Freedom 20 

Martin Nieznanski I Seek 21 

Judy Belfield Obsession 2 1 

Donica Rampa You 22 

Maria Mellinger And Then You Shaved Your Head 22 

Dawn Simmons A Few Hours After This 22 

Maria Mellinger Glass Onion 22 

Scott Johnson Frustration 23 

Steev Custer Being 23 
Christopher Flowers Billy's Biggest Disappointment 23 

Donica Rampa Not Tall Enough 24 

Nicole L. Bymside To An Old Friend 24 

Steev Custer Destination Alcoholism 24 

Maria Mellinger I Bought A Package & I, The Jaguar 24 

Eric Jensen Unwanted Friend 25 

Dawn Mooney For The First Time 25 

Eric Jensen Daymare 26 

Martin Nieznanski Cliche 26 

Holly Bruns The Beginning of Something 26 

Maria Mellinger Zydeco — Lyric & I'm Going To Be 

Okay 27 

Steev Custer Major 27 

Donica Rampa For A Moment 27 

Maria Mellinger I've Seen The Doorway 27 

C. K. Derrick I Wish I Could Be 27 

David Tieman The Broccoli Haters Club 28 

Steev Custer Luttrell & Paragrapoem 2 28 

Eric Jensen Refuge 28 

Nicole L. Bymside Fight 28 

Maria Mellinger I Dance 28 

David Tieman Cast A Shadow Upon My Past 29 

Dawn Mooney I Had A Good Time Any way 29 

Martin Nieznanski Oracle & I Seek A Pardon 29 

Maria Mellinger Michael Patrick Luttrell 29 

Dawn Mooney A Year Later 30 

Maria Mellinger Zydeco — Egypt 30 

Steev Custer Not About Drugs 30 

Eric Jensen Trying To Cram 30 

Steev Custer Paragrapoem 1 3 1 

Eric Jensen I Long To Feel Forgotten 3 1 

Maria Mellinger Zydeco — A Parapoem 31 

David Tieman Sprinkled Avenue & A Once-Filled 

Playground 3 1 

Maria Mellinger Zydeco — Means of Perception 3 1 

Martin Nieznanski Hands Of Men 32 


Fill/Summer, 1991 

Steev Cusier 


I don't have a car right now. I wrecked about two 
months ago, but if you could drive, I could walk all the 
way to your front door. I would sit in the passenger seat 
and whenever a good song came on the radio, we could 
turn the volume up all the way and sing to each other 
like Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton do on TV at 
Christmastime (although I'm sure we wouldn't be 
listening to that kind of music). If you don't have a 
stereo, we could pretend we were listening to the 
Ramones or Naked Raygun, or maybe something I 
haven't heard in a long time like P.I.L. or Depeche 

We'd arrive at the theater early so we could get all 
our candy and popcorn and get the best seats in the 
house; the ones you can sit Indian-style in until the 
movie man comes with his flashlight and yells at you. 
If we're lucky, there would be a cartoon movie showing 
like All Dogs Go To Heaven or The Jeisons, so that we 
could laugh out loud when we though something was 

After the movie is over, I'd take you to dinner at the 
most elegant restaurant in town, where they'd let us in 
even if we're not wearing proper attire, because I could 
slip the Maitre d' a healthy tip. I would order a 
hamburger, even if it wasn't on the menu, because the 
thought of eating snails makes me sick. 

Maybe it would be fun to go to the park after dinner 
to play on the swings or slide down the bumpy slide. It 
would also be fun to go back to my house and watch 
David Letterman, because I hate him and we could make 
a lot of jokes about his messed-up teeth. 

Perhaps none of this will ever happen, but at least it 
chases some of my loneliness away to think about it. 

Maria Mellingcr 




The Scene: An almost empty movie theater 
The Time: Almost closing 
Characters: Myself and Mike (Manager and 
employee of said theater) 

Mike: I gave my roommate 3 dollars worth of quarters 

Wordeiter 76 

to do the laundry, man, and I only have 2 clean pairs 

of underwear. He said he had to do the towels. 
Myself: How dirty can towels get? 
Mike: I don't know. Weird things are happening in our 

apartment. We lost the vacuum cleaner for two 

Myself: Bummer. I lost my red Converse. 
Mike: Just one? 
Myself: Right. Well, left actually. It's not like I took 

them off at a party or something and lost both. Just 

Mike: Maybe there's a Converse revolution and your 

shoe joined. 
Myself: Maybe. Communism's oh the way out No 

one wants to be red anymore. But the pink ones 

haven't left yet. 
Mike: The pink ones? 
Myself: Pinko. Fascists, you know? 
Mike: Pink's cool. Fascism's fashionable. Always has 


(A Slight Pause) 
Mike: So let's talk sports. That'll keep us awake. 
Myself: I hate sports. I don't understand them. 
Mike: Allow me to explain. Take football — 
Myself: Played with a ball using your feet, right? 
Mike: No, that's soccer. 

Myself: Soccer sounds like a game where you hit girls. 
Mike: Yeah. I'd play. (Makes a "biff ' sort of sound 

whilst hitting an air woman.) 
Myself: Baseball. You throw balls at bases? 
Mike: You throw yourself at bases. You hit the balls 

with bats. 
Myself: Aren't animal rights activists up in arms over 

the use of flying rodents at sporting events? 
Mike: No, they don't get hurt. They have sonic hearing 

or something. 
Myself: The animal rights activists? 
Mike Anyway... remember dodge ball in grade school? 
Myself: Remember the geeky kids that would never 

pick up a ball, would never throw a ball, but stayed 

in the game forever? 
Mike: Until the gym teacher grabbed a ball and hit them 

smack in the face. (Makes a second "biff sound, 

taking aim at an air geek with an air dodge ball.) 
Myself: We lost a lot of good gym teachers that way. 

(The characters yawn and stretch. Pause.) 
Mike: The band's going well. Maybe we'll write a rap. 
Myself: "Cookin MC's like a pound of..."? 
Mike: Pork chops? 
Myself: Pot roast? 
Mike: Oven browned Ding-Dongs? 
Myself: Bacon! 


Summer/Fall. 1991 

Meditations With Mike Luttrell, continued 

Mike: Brilliant! I'll be Vanilla Mile. 

(Yet another meaningful pause. The characters 
have worked 13 hours, after all.) 
Myself: Shit, I'm tired. 
Mike: Potty mouth. 
Myself: Can you imagine if people really had potty 

mouths? If they had to go to the bathroom through 

their lips? 
Mike: Kissing would never be the same. 
Myself: I'm sure there'd be some kind of protection. 
Mike: Crest would have to invent new toothpaste 

Myself: So would Preparation H. 
Mike: They already have similar tubes. The research 

shouldn't take long. Scientists arc probably at work 

even as we speak. 
Myself: Speaking of speech, would we have to wear 

underwear on our heads? Would girls pull it off or 

open the fly like guys? What of female trouble? 
Mike: Makes no difference to me. I'd only have two 

clean pairs of underwear anyway. 

(The conversation, having come full circle, ends. 
The movie gets out and the characters, much more alert 
now that their working day is over, go out for coffee to 
insure further caffeine -related conversations tomorrow.) 

Jeff Hicks 


Everything is left the same 
Knowing nothing is to blame 
The wind outside is getting cold 
They can't take it, they're too old 

I came home to where I was bom 
The steps were creaky, the staircase worn 
But something just didn't feel right ' 
So I ran away, blocking out my sight 

Mother called me just last night 

She said how dad wants to win the fight 

I then told her I didn't care 

But that was more than she could bear 

The tunnels burrowed in the sand 
Dead men headin' for the Promised Land 
Cross the canyon, fight the sea 
Look at what's become of me 

The sky lights up in a crimson rage 
Young men die as old ones age 
The dawn does break, the sky's a haze 
People wander in a daze 


Dawn Simmons 


My dreams were kept 

in a 

green glass bottle 

with a dewdrop 

or two 

to keep them fresh, 

but when 

I forgot 

to replace the cap 

they escaped 

and I had 

nothing left. 

Deny the truth, it's all a he 

Society has tricked you but don't ask why 

You say the game is so unfair 

As they lead you to the Dragon's lair 

Time has passed, let's face facts 
Homes for people, now for rats 
See the sparks, how they fly 
Through the darkness of the daytime sky 

A baby cries in the black 
Why he's crying; his dreams are back 
A beating heart behind the wall 
Who is this trying to defeat us all? 

Take a chance, roll the dice 
See who lives, see who dies 
Over anger, past the denial 
Stand in line, wait your trial 


Wordeiier 76 


Summer/Fall, 1991 

Why? continued 

Work so hard, never get it 
Play some games, always forfeit 
Take a breath, gag on smoke 
Eat some food, always choke 

So sit right back folks, enjoy the show 
Of a world gone mad, no one ever knows 

Martin Nieznanski 

When anger happens to strike young Mary Staynor 
she embarks on a strange journey. She takes leave of 
her house and family and ventures to a certain bridge on 
the far end of the village. Only there will she attain 
peace of mind and relaxation. 

Her journey takes her through one of the busiest 
sections of the village. There are few shops along this 
route, but many people use the road to get from one side 
of the village to the other. 

The sun was just rising, so the road was beginning 
to fill with travelers. It was the middle of summer, but 
it was only dawn, so the usual pounding heat had not 
even begun yet. For a moment she felt discomfort 
because she knew that the temperatures would be much 
higher on her journey home. 

A group of five people slowly passed her, not even 
offering a smile. Three of them were men, and the other 
two were women. 

The men had large sacks filled with various items 
and Mary knew immediately that they were headed for 
the old merchant center on the other side of the village. 
The women carried nothing except for a club each of 
them carried for hastening the men in their efforts. Now 
Mary could tell that the women were the merchants and 
the men were just their slaves. 

Mary stopped watching the passing party and 
continued on her way. A humongous cloud of people 
were now filling the road going to opposite ends of the 
village. She felt a small bit of relief because she knew 
that soon she would reach her destination. Just a dozen 
or so paces and she would reach the short path that led to 
the bridge. 

Once she reached the path she was more relaxed. No 
longer would she have to worry about the crowded road, 
and she was even closer to the bridge. 

About twenty paces down the path, on Mary's left, 
stood the remains of a building. Just a few crumbled 

Worde«t« 76 3 

sections of walls were left standing, nothing else. 

It was forbidden to go near the decaying structure, 
for in the days of their ancestors it was used as a school. 
This meant that knowledge must lurk there. Dangerous 

Their ancestors had the knowledge and power to 
build and control machines, they could harness 
lightning, they attempted to control every natural force 
known to them. Then all of their glorious powers and 
discoveries turned on them when nature took revenge. 

Mary was afraid of whatever might be found in the 
remains of that structure, so she continued on her way to 
the bridge. 

Finally, she reached the bridge. It was not a 
glorious sight, just a large bridge made of very smooth 
stone of a whitish hue. Mary ran down the short stretch 
of sloped ground so she could get underneath it. 

Mary thought it quite odd that no water ran beneath 
the bridge. Instead there were two steel beams that were 
about five feet apart from each other with planks of 
wood supporting them. Whatever it was it continued 
forever in both the east and west. She automatically 
imagined the ancestors somehow controlling water to 
travel along it. 

These tracks (as the Elders of the village called 
them) held Mary's attention for a mere moment. She 
turned her head up so she could see the bottom of the 
bridge. Many colorful words and pictures that were 
written in some ancient tongue arrayed the bridge's sides 
and belly. 

Mary laid down on the coarse earth and wondered 
what the ancients of long ago meant when they placed 
these strange writings here and for many hours to come 
she would lay there and contemplate their meanings. 
She thought that the answers to happiness were written 
somewhere on that bridge, when in reality they were. 

For on the belly of the bridge was scribed the name 
of an ancestor and who they were in love with, written 
in plain English. 


Steev Custer 


During the months following the tragic accident that 
took the life of his best friend, Duncan McCabe refused 
to speak to anyone. He often locked himself in his 
bedroom and sat alone in the darkness crying himself to 

Duncan and George had been friends since they were 


Summer/Fill, 1991 

Sinister Summer, continued 

five. They practically gTew up together and, in fact, 
Duncan felt that George was the only person with whom 
he could trust his dreams and secrets. They treated each 
other like brothers, so when George died, Duncan felt as 
if he had lost the only person he had ever loved. 

George was a victim of being in the wrong place at 
the absolute worst time. On his way home from 
football practice one evening in late May, he had stopped 
at a gas station and inadvertently walked in on a robbery. 
He stood in the store and contemplated when would be 
the best time to make a break and finally he tried. 
George was almost to the front door when the assailant 
turned and opened fire on his victim shooting him twice 
in the head and killing him instantly. 

Duncan had considered suicide several times since 
George's burial, but something in the back of his mind 
assured him that life would get better, and therefore 
prevented his death. 

Gradually, Duncan reverted to his old self. He 
began by taking meals in the kitchen again, and 
occasionally holding a conversation with his parents. 
By the time July rolled around, Duncan was back 
working part-lime at his father's restaurant and quite 
frequently going out with friends. 

Duncan's thoughts of suicide had progressed also. 
What started as a dream of taking his own life had now 
graduated from hunting down and torturing his friend's 
murderer to a fascination with murder itself. 

Although he felt as if he had almost conquered his 
feelings about George's death, Duncan often found 
himself alone in the darkness and tranquility of his 
bedroom, pondering murder and what it would feel like 
to take out his aggressions on someone else. 

He kept a notebook filled with methods he had 
dreamt up for killing someone, but Duncan soon realized 
that what he had actually done was plan the perfect 
murder and even chosen his victim. 

Leona Wilkes had just moved to town two weeks 
before school let out, so it was blatantly obvious to 
Duncan that she had not friends. She lived with her 
mother in the trailer park behind the junior high, and 
helped pay the bills by waiting on tables at the McCabe 
Family Inn. 

Duncan considered himself lucky in the aspect that 
he had dated Leona several times, setting the pretense to 
coax her to her house for her unknowing execution. For 
Duncan's desire to murder had grown so strong that it 
was no longer limited to finding George's killer. 
Anyone would do. 

If everything went according to plan, Duncan would 
date her on the evening of August 19th, when his 

Wordeilcr 76 

parents departed for their annual summer vacation. He 
would bring her back to his house, where he would stab 
her and dispose of her body in the woods behind his 
house. It was the perfect plan, he thought, because no 
one would find the corpse for months, and by then no 
one could trace the murder to him. 

The days dragged slowly by, but finally the day 
arrived when his parents would leave, waving and 
smiling as they departed for the airport with Duncan's 
Aunt Mildred. He assured them that he would be fine 
and wished them a pleasant trip before pushing them out 
the door, overridden with anxiety. 

After dinner and a movie, Duncan and Leona retired 
to the vacated McCabe residence for some company and 

They sat in front of the fireplace and drank some of 
the Southern Comfort Duncan had stolen from his 
father's liquor cabinet. For the first time since George's 
death, just three months before, Duncan confided his 
secret emotions to Leona and he felt a wave of relief 
cover his body. Duncan might never had told anyone 
these thoughts, but he thought Leona would be dead in 
less than an hour, so it didn't really matter anyway. 

After a long pause, Duncan started talking about the 
subject of killing people, and he asked Leona what she 
thought it would be like to take someone else's life. 
She answered with the revolver she had hidden in her 
purse. "Taking someone's life is all fine and well," she 
said calmly, as she shot Duncan in the chest "But it's 
the choosing of my victims and the planning of my 
methods that I enjoy the most." 

Martin Nieznanski 


Sometimes try scratching at 
The walls about you, and 
See if you can get out as 
Easily as you think 

Nicole L. Byrnside 


I realize now, 

The only one close to you 

Is Mr. Wallet 


Summer/Fall, 1991 

Eric Jensen 

Maria Mellinger 

If I think hard enough, the phone rings. I'll be in 
my bed trying to dream of healing or rubbing cocoa but- 
ter on my scars when a tingle will start. Deep in my 
brain the tingle grows, fed on paranoia and fear. It grows 
and grows, and imagined tumor of technology. The vi- 
brations begin to ring out. It reaches my ears and the 
others hear it too. Mama answers the phone and says, 
"Evusha, it's for you." 

Then I must shed my bedcovers like a butterfly does 
her cocoon. I flutter weakly, for my wings are still wet, 
into the kitchen and pick up the extension. 

"Miss Dybek...?" It's the doctor. It's always the 

Mama stands behind me, her ear close to mine as if 
she could understand the American diagnosis and doctor 
language. Her English isn't good. Her hearing is. She 
senses the bad news and timidly touches my shoulder. I 
can smell apple juice on her breath as she comforts me. 

When I was a girl in Poland, before I knew of 
diseases and treatments that were a second disease them- 
selves, I stumbled into my uncle's beehives while play- 
ing. The structures feel and I landed on hundreds of 
angry honey bees, each seeking revenge. Mama rushed 
out and ran with my body to escape the insects. Inside 
my uncle's house she held me and spoke soothing words 
never realizing she was pushing each sting deeper into 
my skin, prolonging my pain with her aid. 

In America, when I first felt lumps inside my body, 
I almost believed they were caused by the bees.. .that if 
Mama hadn't held me so, I would have healed long ago. 

The doctors proved the bees innocent, but found 
nothing else to blame. 

And now they call me with test results and experi- 
ments they wish to perform. I wish for my childhood 
bed in my country, where slipping under the homemade 
quilts could save me from the doctors or the bees or 
Mama. I wish for no more hospitals, no more treat- 
ments, no more "live-saving procedure..." 

...which is what the doctor is offering me today. 
"You can check into the hospital on Monday," he 
continues, and my dreams of healing die. I only dream 
of dying, and the telephone calls that prevent this end. 
"You'll live...," he concludes. 

Of course. It's the most devastating news of all. 

Wordealcr 76 


The boy in the mist cries my name 

And claims it as his own 

Leads me to a meadow 

And leaves me there to wonder 

I watch his image grow 

Into a shape much too familiar 

As he exits toward the twilight 

From my life eternally 

J Steev Custer 


Janet spend many hours wandering the countless 
paths in the park. She loved to watch the animals scurry 
about, gathering food and occasionally stopping to watch 
her wander through their homeland. 

One of the things Janet found most interesting 
about the park was the boy who sat on the bridge every 
day. Janet noticed that he would often produce a marker 
of some sort and contribute to the graffiti on the bridge. 
When she saw him do this, it infuriated her; to think 
that someone would actually want to steal some of the 
beauty of the park. 

One Saturday afternoon she sat and studied him as 
he wrote on the railing of the bridge and the footpath 
that made up the majority of the trestle. She noticed 
that he sat for hours, observing the calm lake that gave 
home to much of the park's habitat. 

After he left, Janet slowly ventured onto the bridge 
to gather evidence with which to confront him the next 
time he appeared. When she reached the center, she 
noticed that what he had written was not the disgusting 
declarations she had once thought, but beautiful poetry, 
conveying the environment's tranquility. 

As Janet read his words, she conjured an image of 
this poet in her mind. She could see him sitting Indian- 
style on the bridge, absorbing the area around him, 
translating it into so many flowing words. Janet found 
that she had noticed little of the poet's physical 
appearance, except for the plaid pants he often wore. 

Janet returned to this scene daily, reading the new 
poetic occupants for the poet in plaid. She would spend 
hours of the afternoon reading these lines, mentally 
devising a picture of the poet, and trying to piece his life 
together from the lines he had written. 

Once, as she stood on the bridge studying the won- 


5 Summer/Fall, 1991 

Poet In Plaid, continued 

Eric Jensen 

derful words, he returned. He said nothing, just sat in 
his usual location and stared into the depths of the lake 
beneath them. 

Janet felt her heart balloon with love until it felt as 
if it occupied her entire chest. She worked up her 
courage and spoke, but he did not answer. 

Several days passed before the poet in plaid would 
participate in conversation, but one afternoon he asked 
Janet why she sat on his bridge every day when he had 
never spoken to her before. 

With butterflies in her stomach, Janet explained 
how his elegant words and rhythms captured her heart. 
The poet would not look in her eyes, but Janet felt in 
her heart that he, too, felt something for her. 

After that day the poet ceased his afternoon visits in 
the park. Instead, he waited for nightfall, when no one 
could sec him as he sat in solitude on his bridge. 

Janet misses the poet in plaid, but she slops every 
day to read his poetry and sniff the ever-lingering scent 
of his permanent marker. 

Martin Nieznanski 

Feed me 

Shelter me 
Clothe me 

Love me 

Support me 

Praise me 




A bleeding trust 
Encapsules me 
O writhing lust 
For those who see 
To take my mind 
And feed its pain 
To give a sign 
I'm not insane 
To shed my warmth 
And feel my cold 
To take my norms 
And make diem bold 


Maria Mellinger 

He's a business man. 

He occupies the 

Desk next to me. When 

He thinks no one is 

Watching he doodles 

On his black leather 

Shoes, bending over, 

Bic in hand, he's 

Talking to his laces, 

Escaping the bland offices faces. 

I imagine in 

High school he ditched 

Economics to 

Smoke in the art room 

And wore Grateful Dead T-shirts 

And only bought white 

Tennis shoes that he 

Could decorate with his soul 


Martin Nieznanski 

David Tieman 

Bell bottoms, acid trips 
Joints between our fingertips 
A nostalgic high 


Ruptured torso provokes 
Deep organ odors 
Painting the atmosphere 
With stenches of a 
Blasted heart 



Wordeater 76 

Summer/Fa II, 1991 

Maria Mellingcr 


The clique 

Known as the "cool table's" dead. 

They used to 

smoke cigarettes 

onetwothreefour just like that 
innumerable packs a day. 
The cafe 

Has since been declared a 
No smoking area 

and they sit in clack 
thinking back 

to the days of philosophy 
And roses in a cellophane wrapper. 

Dawn Mooney 


I went to the park 

And sat on the stone 

Where I told you my life story 

And walked down the paths 

Where you became part of the tale 

I went to the park 

And swung so high on the swings 

That the metal poles rattled 

And I felt that nervous, bouyant, 

almost-flying rush 
That I felt that day 

When I started a new chapter of my life 
And your name was the title. 

Martin Nieznanski 


Awkward stones point towards the past 
Reminding us of the children who 
Scratched at the glass panes of the sky 

Horror-ridden they broke through. 
Gone beyond that silicon border that 
Leads to the land of maturity 

Worde«ter 76 

Maria Mellinger 


The snowflakes rush into my windshield. 


As if they knew what they were doing. 

In front of me, another car's 

Red Sea taillights are parting the blizzard 

In Biblical proportions, 

The brothers of the fallen flakes forming drifts 

And others melting into somewhere. 

I'm following 

The boy with the funny name home. 

I wonder if his kiss 

Will be as dry and powdery as tonight's precipitation. 

Judy Belfield 


The ground is hard; 

I will not feel earth again 

not even with spring thaw. 

I am consigned to winter's mouth 

have swollen up under her tongue 

like a hot infection. 

In February I lost everything — 

dogs howled 

and smacked their steaming lips. 

I am carrion in snow, 

a shredded carcass 

forever frozen. 

Maria Mellinger 


It wasn't as if she asked for the nightmares. They 
just seemed to enjoy her sleep so much more than any 
other thought. 

Perhaps they had been inherited from her father. He 
often fell asleep on the couch, returning to the jungles of 
Vietnam, shaking and moaning on the sofa without ever 
falling to the floor. The family knew not to wake him. 
He would scream and reach for a gun that hadn't been 
been at his side for twenty years now, and feel foolish 
and sad when he found it missing. The television would 


Summer/Fall, 1991 

We Eat and Drink While Tomorrow They Die, 


laugh at him and his warm beer would topple over and 
cry into the carpeting. 

She had been in Vietnam with him, after all, as a 
collection of chromosomes waiting for the right woman. 
Maybe she was defective from the very start, genetically 
designed for bad dreams. 

To combat her brain, she remained awake, drinking 
coffee as a shield against sleep, digging trenches deep 
within her heart and throwing bags below her eyes. 

Lisa Bucciarelli 

"Do you want me to clasp it for you?" I asked. It 
was his seventeenth birthday, and I had just presented 
him with a silver basketball on a chain. He nodded. 
"You think of the neatest things, Beck, last year the 
indoor basketball, and the year before the hoop.. .God, 
how do you do it?" 

"I know what you like, Dan," I answered. "Now 
shut up and cut the cake!" 

So he did and we fed each other chocolate layer cake, 
shoving it by the handful into each other's 
mouths — laughing, gorging. Soon, the scene broke into 
a chocolate cake war as we threw it at each other and 
mashed it into our hair, clothes, everywhere but our 

All too soon, the cake was gone and we were left 
with a mess. After recovering from hysterical laugher, 
we sat there leaning against each other, holding our 
stomachs and viewing the remains. Neither one of us 
could look at the other without provoking more 
laughter, especially since we hadn't recovered from the 
first. I pressed my lips together to squeeze my laugh 
inside, but soon, I could feel Danny's back shaking with 
laughter against mine, and our laughter came out loud 
and strong. I put my arm around him and hugged him 
tight. The laughter ceased for a moment and I said, 
"Happy Birthday, Danny." Because we were just friends, 
I innocently leaned over and kissed him on the cheek. 
When I looked over at him again, I saw that my lips had 
left a chocolate imprint on his cheek. As I rocked back 
and forth, laughing wildly, I managed to gasp, "mirror, 
mirror." Taking my cue, he walked over to the mirror. I 
couldn't see him now, but I could hear him chuckling, 
and I could envision him shaking his head at this 

He came back over to me and thanked me; he told he 

Wordejter 76 

that he never had a friend like me who could understand 
his every thought and emotion. He said that no one 
could make him laugh like I did, and no other girls made 
him feel at ease the way I did. 

I returned his compliments with a smile that turned 
into a grin when he finished his tribute by stating, "and 
you're the only girl, no the only human alive, that 
comes close to beating me at basketball." 

"You wimp!" I screamed. "Let's go. I'll kick your 

"Oh, this one I'd like to see," he said smiling and 
rolling his eyes. It was a long game and I didn't win, 
but just playing with him gave me the same satisfaction 
as victory. 

After the game, we sat, side by side, on the back of 
his jeep. It was cool out and crickets were humming 
with the night. Dan started to explain the stars to me. 
He used such big words and told such confusing, yet 
interesting stories. I loved listening to him, even 
though I was confused as hell by his theories. Soon, he 
paused and said, "You're not understanding a word of 
this, are you?" 

"Not really," I admitted. 

He smiled at my ignorance and said he would 
simplify it. "See those stars right there — no over here, 
up there," he pointed. "That one on the end, that's ice 
cream, that one to the left is basketball." He shifted 
positions and sat behind me, so that I could lean against 
him while he pointed. "That one there, that's Derrick 
Coleman." I smiled, Derrick Coleman was my favorite 
basketball player. The next one is — umm, uh... choco- 
late layer cake," he announced. "And the last one, the 
brightest one, that's my friendship with you." Touched 
by his sweetness and charm, I turned and hugged him. I 
reached up and fingered the charm I had given him and 
said, "What would I do without you, Danny?" 

He drove me home and walked me to the front door. 
He thanked me once again and said he would call me the 
next day. "Until then, just remember, I am king of the 
hoops!" were his departing words. Sighing, clicking my 
tongue, and rolling my eyes at his remark, I unlocked 
the door and stepped inside. I turned to lock the door 
just in time to see him perform a fantasy dunk at my 
hoop. Smiling, I locked the door and proceeded to go to 

I had a very strange dream that night; I had returned 
to Dan's and he was hurt. I tried to care for him, but he 
didn't want my help. He kept whispering something I 
couldn't understand. Eventually, an ambulance arrived. 
I'm not sure who called the ambulance, or how I got 
from Dan's to the hospital. But I was there, and a 
policeman was asking me questions. 


8 Summer/Fill, 1991 

A Fallen Star, continued 

"What time did you leave Dan's house?" 

"What was the approximate time you returned?" 

"Did the victim mention...?" 

My mother ran up to me, she embraced me and told 
me over and over and over that it was okay. As she told 
me what happened, I realized I was not asleep; this 
wasn't a dream. My dear and trusted friend went home 
and tried to kill himself. He hanged himself off his 
basketball hoop, the one I had given him for his fif- 
teenth birthday. I felt dizzy, and I fell numb, but I didn't 
cry. I didn't believe it was true. Dan was still alive, and 
as far as I was concerned, he wouldn't die. 

He would do this, I thought. I sat in the same spot 
for what seemed like forever just thinking, "why? why? 
why?" I felt as if it were a cruel joke, and Danny would 
pop out and say, "Ha! Just kiddin' Beck!" But I knew 
from the hollow feeling in my heart it wasn't true. 

"Becky," someone said, and I looked up to see 
Danny's mom. "Becky," she repeated. I stood up to hug 
her; she felt stiff and hard. She slipped a piece of paper 
in my hand. "We found this," she informed me, patted 
my shoulder, and walked away. I had no idea what the 
not contained. As I began opening it, I could see 
Danny's handwriting and fear rose in my system. I 
fumbled with the paper because my hands were shaking 
so terribly. Finally, I had it unfolded. It was a poem 
from Dan. 

"Beck," it said, 

"Don't gather flowers for me. 

Or hang your head in sorrow, 

Don't think of what was yesterday, 

Or what could have been tomorrow. 

This is how I wanted it to be, 

So please don't cry any more, 

This is how it was meant to be 

Planned in days of yore. 

It wasn't all a secret, 

I hinted here and there. 

In the hope that you would understand. 

In the hope that you would care. 

People say it's because I'm crazy, 

Which certainly is not true. 

I did it because I was confused, 

A quote I learned from you." 

I read it only once and stared blankly at the page. I 
couldn't understand at first. Then my mind recalled the 
night we had sat in his jeep talking about life and its 
worth. He asked me if I had ever thought of killing 
myself. "Doesn't everyone at some point?" I answered. 

"No," he explained. "I mean really thought about 
it, like enough to do it." 

Wordeiter 76 

I guess my silence disturbed him, for he said, "Ah, 
never mind — it's crazy." And that's when I said 
it — "You don't have to be crazy to commit suicide, just 
confused." His key turning in the ignition was his 

I had forgotten about that night, and now as I 
recalled it, I felt nauseated. Perhaps if I had taken him 
seriously, he wouldn't have done this. But, he never 
said he was going to; he showed no signs at all. 

I walked through life in a daze, not really feeling 
much of anything at all. Friends would hug me and 
walk away, but I couldn't feel their touch. The phrase, 
"I'm sorry" became an echo in my mind as the last four 
days of Dan's life slowly passed by. 

I received the news that he had died on a Sunday 
night My mother and father tried to comfort me, but I 
wasn't upset — not yet at least. I needed time to deal 
with this. After the sun went down, I went outside and 
sal down on my porch. The darkness of the night 
surrounded me, its silence wrapped itself around my 
body. Slowly, I looked to y own basketball hoop. I 
closed my eyes; I didn't want it anymore. I hated 
everything it symbolized now. Maybe in the morning I 
could convince my father to take it down. I continued 
sitting there, staring at it, but I refused to imagine what 
Dan looked like on that night. I decided then and there 
that I didn't want anything more to do with basketball. It 
would be too painful. I kept seeing Dan in my mind; I 
kept hearing his voice. He seemed so alive to me that I 
was afraid if I looked to my left, he would be sitting 
there. I shuddered at the thought. I wanted to see him, 
hear him, touch him. I started to break down. I couldn't 
handle this any more. My father called me inside; it was 
cold outside, yet I couldn't feel it. I was numb. I went 
inside and sat down on the bed. For the first time, I 
cried; everywhere I looked in my room, something 
reminded me of him. 

The morning of the funeral, I prepared to say my 
last goodbye. As I stood over the casket, reality came 
crashing down on me. Danny was dead. I would never 
see him or speak to him again. I would never dribble 
against his defense again. "How can I live without 
you?" I whispered. But he couldn't hear me, and 
obviously, he wouldn't have cared even if he could. I 
realized at that moment how serious this was. My friend 
who had given me courage and happiness was gone. 
And I knew I could never replace him. 

I gave the first reading. "Love is patient, love is 
kind.. .It always protects, always gives.. .Love never 
fails." As I read it, I choked over the words, for I knew 
Dan had failed us all. And at that moment, I didn't 
believe love to be kind, because Dan and I loved each 


J Summer/Ftll 1991 

A Fallen Star, continued 

but none ever did. 


other, and that same love hurt me. It hurt me deeply to 
know that someone I loved and cherished and respected 
could do such a horribly selfish thing. 

The entire community was in shock. Parents were 
worried that their kids would do the same thing, and 
those who were close to Dan and his family searched for 
an answer as to why someone as well rounded and kind 
as Dan would commit suicide. 

Dan's school sponsored a support meeting for those 
who needed help coping with the loss and preventing it 
from happening to others. I didn't want to go, but my 
mother and father insisted I attend. 

At this meeting, people spoke of suicide, and how 
sometimes the problem cannot be seen until it's too 
late. They spoke of warning signs. ..if Danny had been 
feeling this way, I should have known about it. Maybe, 
if I. ..maybe somehow I could have prevented what 

These thoughts nauseated me, and I went outside to 
get some fresh air. Far off in the distance, I saw a red 
jeep, just like Danny's. Even though I knew in my 
mind and in my heart it wasn't his, and he wasn't alive, 
I still ran to it as quickly as I could. I leaned up against 
it, longing to feel his arm on my shoulder again. 
Slowly, I let my hand run across the hood of the jeep. I 
walked to the back of the jeep where we had sat so many 
times. I touched it over and over again. Suddenly, I 
started crying, and anger rose in my system. "Why did 
you do it?" I yelled, and I hit the jeep. I continued 
screaming and hitting the jeep until the anger wore off 
and all that was left were my tears. "I loved you," I said 
calmly, wiping my tears. "I really, really loved you, 

It's been six months since that night. With the 
help of many, I'm coping much better. I was explaining 
to Dan's mom the other day that I went through a period 
where I hated Dan for leaving me with so much 
confusion and pain and anger. It was difficult for me to 
go to Dan's grave at first Gradually, I overcame that 
difficulty. Last evening, I went to Dan's grave. It was 
dark out, and I was afraid. I wished Dan were there to 
diminish my fears, but I knew that was impossible. The 
stars were shining brightly that evening. As I looked up 
at them, I saw music and ice cream and basketball. I 
even saw our stars. They appeared to be in a different 
formation that night I stared at them until I realized 
they were forming a new star. And I knew then that 
Danny was in a good and a safe place. I knew this 
because the stars smiling at me were Danny saying he 
was sorry and promising things would be all right. I 
stood there for a few minutes waiting for a star to fall, 

Wordejter 76 

Maria Mellinger 


The foundation is filled in 
with dirt now, the cement 
boundary all that is left . 
of a house murdered by fire. 
To the left are five trees, 
one for each family 
member that died that day. 
Across the street is your home, 
with the ghosts of my past 
burning throughout the yard. 

Holly Bruns 


Blue bubbles on a billowy breeze brings back memories 
of childhood as I lay in the grass of the back yard 
looking up at the clouds to imagine them as animals and 
monsters and floating cotton candy which is something I 
really like and can't keep around the house because I 
can't make myself stop eating it is a word that should be 
avoided like some people that I know but wish I didn't 
so I pretend not to see them when they pass by like the 
last twenty years of my life it's incredible how quickly 
they have gone away like people that I have loved who 
probably pass by me at times and pretend not to see me 
is someone I'm getting reacquainted with at unexpected 
times and it always takes me by surprise party for 
someone and you go out of obligation rather than out of 
kindness which is something all too often forgotten like 
so much of the stuff I once had in my head or the things 
that float in and out of it and I want to remember them 
and write them down but they are gone when I've found 
my pen and paper is filling the garbage dumps of 
America is at war with a madman which Quixote was 
but a likable one and very amusing and humorous a bone 
in the arm which breaks and must be set with plaster and 
hung in a sling shot shoots stones at someone silly 
sitting sadly and waiting for the abuse to stop but 
doesn't move to stop it and I have no pity for that 
martyr who is really a fool with no tool in his head on a 
neck with an ache in the front and no aspirin in the 
cupboard but a nap would help. 


Summer/Fill 1991 

David Tieman 



Am like a botUe of soda pop. 

If you lei me fall, I'll break. 


If you leave me in the freezer, 

I'll explode. 



Lie alone in the factory 

With my cap on tight 

Away from those who are thirsty 

C. K. Derrick 


Standing on the roadside 

Middle of summer 

Middle of nowhere 

Dead apple orchard 

Clapboard farmhouse 

Like an Andrew Wyeth portrait 

But I must go on 

Continue on, the road goes on 

A pair of ruts is a time machine 

Across viaducts built in 1922 

In a car built in 1963 

Driven by a man who is still 

Under constructions and 

Searching for meaning 

Behind the wheel of a Volkswagen 

Maria Mellinger 


You touch the soft skin 

Of where my wrist meets my arm, 

The underside scarred, 

And I am an Indian pony 

With your hands in my mane 

And a broken hoof. 

I never knew you meant 

To shoot me. 

Steev Custer 


I don't want to 


to heated 

arguments on 

the sofa; 

I long to 

run through 

daisy filled fields 

with my 

colorful kite 


through the stratosphere. 

I can't look forward to 

bickering and arguing 

over punctuality 

and manners 

when I could be 

playing jacks 

on the museum floor 

or arm wrestling in a local McDonalds. 

Judy Belfield 


Last evening in the arbor 

we walked with purpose 

ignoring the pink petals 

of fallen blossoms 

strewn throughout the grass. 

We walked with confidence 

tucked in 

under our chins 

zipped up twice 

for safe keeping; 

we were sure of everything. 

We keep doing this 

every evening — 

drinking the 

thick sweet intoxicant lies 

our throats crave 

as we march into darkness. 

Again and again 

the morning returns 

with deadly aim 

slices pretense 

to the bone. 

We fall 

wc fail 

Wordeaier 76 

Summer/Fill 1991 

Maria Mellmger 

Donica Ram pa 


Be welcome into the home of my heart, 
you'll never need a key. 
Take care with the rug, it's woven in part 
of compassion and honesty. 

See the rail, next to the door? 
There hang your sad things to dry. 
Come sit in the love-carved chair like before, 
and feel free to laugh, talk or cry. 

Wrap yourself in the quilt of friendship, 
and sit by the fire of affection, 
that burns in the hearth made of kinship — 
and watch it glow warmth and protection. 

Thaw chilled emotion with light conversation, 
and a hot cup of tranquility . 
Kick off your shoes of anger and frustration, 
and soak your feet in serenity. 

Spend a few moments, days or weeks, 

here in this home of my heart 

And take from that bowl of smile-kissed cheeks 

some laughter when you depart. 

Dawn Simmons 


When I first saw the scars 

and got close enough 

to touch 

the open wounds 

I somehow 

should have known 

that you could love 


except for that 

warped and dusty piece 

of Kodak paper 

left over from your feeble past. 

I feel my depression 

crawling up like a water bug 

through the bathroom pipes, 

Countless feelers 

Brushing my toes, my ankles. 

Past my Sylvia Plath scar. 

And up the length of my legs. 

Soon it will be in my belly. 

Then my head. 

Then my throat. 

Then my lips, 

Where it will kiss me 

Like the cause of all my pain. 

Scott Johnson 


When I was your age 

We had to walk 

A million miles 

In ten feet of snow. 

The temperature was thirty below. 

The trek was 

Uphill and against the wind 

Bothways, there and back again. 

We lived in a shack 

With leaky ceilings 

And missing tiles in the floor 

And squeaky, rusty old hinges 

That barely held up the stinkin' door. 

There was no TV 

And records were square 

(The wheel had just caught on back there.) 

All of the common subjects of today 

Were taboo then (the good old days). 

Whatever happened to them? 

Where did they go? 

Why were they replaced 

By the things that make me feel disgraced? 

Eric Jensen 

I claw at your defenses 
Like a wretched, starving feline 
Breaking through for an instant 
As you run away 


Wordeater 76 


Summer/Fall 1991 

Eric Jensen 


Backward messages on ice cream cones 

Poison tomorrow's children 

With melting hopes 

And sticky greed 

That runs down their arms 

And drips down their chin 

And trails chillingly sweet 

On their tongues 

Under a hot summer sun 

Jeff Hicks 

I lower the dark lenses 

to cover my eyes 
So she can't see 

my thoughts or dreams 
And so she doesn't notice 

that I am looking 
Because if she knew 

I watching her 
She might leave 


Maria MellingeT 

This used to be a poem 

About something else. 

I changed it. 

It has new meaning. 

But I kept the original title 

Because if you scrape off 

A layer of words, 

The original oils are 

Under there, and the 

True poem will sing. 

Jeff Hicks 

The fog cloaks the city 

giving the streetlights a luminescent glow 
It seems as if I'm in an endless void 

as I walk along the sidewalk 
Objects becoming visible with every step 

and others disappearing behind me. 

Judy Belfield 


Nothing to do but scream 
slam my head against the wall. 
Maybe one of the hits 
will stop the pain 

Scream again — 

blood makes 

new, arbitrarily shaped blooms 

next to the cornflowers 

on the wallpaper 

yesterday's blue-petalled 

motionless, scentless 

papervinyl artificial 

flat lifeless ugly 

nauseating things 

splattered with the oozing out 

of iron red angry riot 

of terrible pain. 

Maybe one of the hits 

will stop it all 



Can you hear me now? 

Can you hear 

Do you listen? 

Can you stop it? 

Can you make it stop? 

Scream again 


Are you listening to me? 

Can you take it away 

before the cornflowers disappear 

under the cadence 

of rhythmic red 

pulsing out the pain 

like a fist punching muscle 

into pulp... 

is a spiral 

that begins in a tight knot at my throat. 
I cannot get free. 



Summer/Fall 1991 



Once in my life I knew; 

But forgot. 

When the rest of my peers sold out 

To the constraints that society puts 

On our minds, they became unable 

To look at the world as I do: 

An outsider; 

An in-betweener. 

Able to find immense humor in a life 

That the rest of you would consider 

Normal. A life that I fight every day, 

Tooth and nail, to direct where I choose. 

And I am looked down upon. By my peers, 

Parents, and various other members of 

our "society." 

Each day I'm told "Don't fight the system. 

Work with it, and it will work for you." 

And each day I roll my eyes upward 

And sigh. 

You see, I have an "ace-in-the-hole," so to speak. 

I measure success by how happy I am. 

I achieve my own goals, and although they 

May be smaller than some, they are 


And I am proud of them, and I am proud 

To be me. 

Geoffrey Rusch 

Wow! It's truly incredible! It's better than everyone 

Miracle drug; acid; LSD. I can understand why Leary was so 
stuck on it. It is my first time tripping and I love it. The 
kaleidoscopic wheels of illumination spin soundlessly, 
seeming to vibrate life. Simple pleasures seem to evolve 
from the bursts of color that flash before my eyes and the 
feeling of butterflies in my stomach make me want to vomit 
and laugh at the same time. There is, however, one thing 
that disturbs me.. .that smell. At first it wasn't that bad, 
sweet in a sense. But now it has changed, or perhaps I'm 
just now realizing it. It's a sickening smell like a rotting 
dog lying along an interstate. Well. ..I can live with it. 

WATT! It's all changing. I'm lying on the ground now 
and darkness is unfolding around mc. It's freezing, yet the 
heat is overpowering. Goose bumps swarm up and down my 
flesh like molten lava. It appears I am lying at the bottom 
of a vast abyss and the cold, stone walls that surround me 
ooze dark blood. OH MY GOD! Those faces staring down at 

Wordealcr 76 14 

me aren't human. Cajoling, leering faces such as those 
could only have been spawned from the heinous womb of 
hell. Why do they mock me? Leave me along, gargoyles! I 
don't like this any more. What happened? What was once 
peaceful and serene is turning into a hideous nightmare. My 
vivid, fascinating colors have metamorphosed into dull and 
dreary shades of horror. And that smell, that smell is 
driving me insane. It smells like. my brain is rotting! 
The creatures are beckoning, calling out for me to join their 
death brigade. I can't handle this anguish any longer. My 
only hope is my father's gun. Their insufferable howls and 
that nauseating stench have pushed me past the point of no 

The .45 caliber pistol feels warm in my cold and 
shaking fingers. The weight of it gives me a strong sense 
of security that even the maniac cries of repulsive demons 
can't break. I raise the gun to my mouth and pull the 
trigger. A second later I look upon my lap with remorse as I 
notice that what is left of my brain isn't rotting at all. Of 
course, it's too late now. 


David Tieman 


The creative writing witch of poems 

Slices through the night sky. 

She rides upon her magic pencil 

And leaves a trail of graphite dust behind. 

Her wicked sidekick, "Haiku" the cat 
Terrorizes by her side. 
Together they haunt this fictitious world 
With shrieking screams of "five, seven, five." 


A haiku for you 

With seventeen syllables 

Of almost nothing 


Maria Mellinger 


The restaurant booth was a pirate ship, 
The cracked coffee cup a crow's nest 
Offering an outlook on our discussion 
Of poetry, suicides, and minor dingies. 
Do you know why "he" always leaves "her"? 
Because she always pushes him away. 


Summer/Fill 1991 

Nicole L. Byrnside 


I remember wrestling little brother, 

The tomboy that I was. 

Pinned him every time. 

Now "Uncle Sam" has pinned him down 


Wrestled away his life. 

Steev Custer 




When I come back to this house, I get a lot of great 
memories of the mystic summers I spend here with my 

I returned here today to clean out my Grandfather's 
belongings. He passed away three days ago. 

My mother often told me I got my wild imagination 
from Grandpa, because when either one of us started to 
tell a story, everyone stopped to listen and didn't leave 
until it was done. I marveled at the thought of being as 
skilled at spinning a tale as Grandpa was. 

Some of my fondest childhood memories are the 
stories Grandpa would make up and tell to me as we sat 
in the swing on the front porch, looking out over the 
village of Pickleton, Grandpa's make-believe town. 
Grandpa had made up hundreds of stories about 
Pickleton, some to teach his grandkids valuable lessons, 
some to pass the time before Grandma had finished 
cooking dinner, but most were invented just for fun. 

After hearing Grandpa's stories, I lived in the 
magical land of Pickleton, where everyone loved pickles, 
and ate crazy things like pickle souffle, and pickle-butter 
and jelly sandwiches. Most everyone in Pickleton lived 
in a green house, and all the adults worked at Pickleton 
Pickle Plant, because all a Pickletonite ever thought 
about was pickles. 

As I sat in the aged swing on the front porch of the 
deserted house, I remembered my favorite Pickleton 
adventure: No Pickles for Pickleton. 

Grandpa had told the story like this: Back in 1929, 
disaster struck the people of Pickleton. Just eleven years 
earlier, the motorcar had been invented, and someone at 
the Pickle Plant decided it was time to send some of the 
delicious Pickleton-recipe pickles out to the rest of the 

It was unanimously decided to send the tasty product 

Wordeater 76 

out to a dozen select grocery stores around the nation. 
The Plant went into overtime, producing pickles around 
the clock, preparing for the Big Day on which 
Pickleton's pride and joy pickles would be shared with 
the rest of the country. 

Trucks were purchased and drivers were hired. 
Several Pickleton housewives designed a fancy label for 
the front of the pickle jars. The whole town anticipated 
the world's reaction to Pickleton Pickles. 

Finally the day arrived and the pickles were loaded 
into the trucks. The drivers assured the townspeople 
they would drive safely and set out on their way. 

After weeks with no reply, the phones at the 
Pickleton Pickle Plant began ringing constantly. The 
response to Pickleton's Pickles was overwhelming. The 
plant went on permanent 24-hour operation. Millions of 
pickles were produced and shipped daily. But there was 
just one problem. 

While Pickletonites struggled to produce pickles for 
the rest of the country, they stopped production of 
pickles for themselves. Those famous Pickleton Pickles 
were being shipped around the country but none of them 
stayed in Pickleton. Pickletonites panicked. 

Children in every home in Pickleton went to bed 
hungry. Parents resorted to imported pickles, which 
were made with substandard materials. 

While the Pickletonites starved, or ate substandard 
pickles, the quality of their own product diminished. 
They found they could not concentrate solely on one 
activity at a time without the pickles they had come to 

Soon the grocery stores that had been so feverishly 
ordering Pickleton Pickles, stopped calling. National 
tabloids started printing stories of pickles stuffed with 
razor blades, and pickles that had been laced with LSD, 
all of which were untrue. 

Eventually, pickle production returned to normal. 
Pickleton children happily ate all the pickle casserole on 
their plates. Pickletonites went on with their lives, 
producing the pickles they had come not only to love, 
but to depend on. 

I sat on the swing and cried. I had missed the 
Pickleton stories since I was a boy, but now there was 
some sort of finality about missing them. No more 
outrageous, ridiculous stories about pickle-dependent 
grown-ups. No more afternoons spent sitting on 
Grandpa's swing, mentally picturing a green town called 
Pickleton. I told myself it was time to start packing 
Grandpa's belongings. I hope he is happy now, living 
in Pickleton, eating pickles and staying young forever. 



Summer/Fill 1991 

Maria Mel linger 

My husband was running late after work and in that 
terrible mixture of worry and anger, I had a dream. 
Somewhere on the side of the road from the factory to 
our house was our car, broken and bleeding fluids as an 
ambulance stole Kendall away. He was dead on arrival. 

A childhood nightmare fear throbbed in my 
head — the kind of fear I felt when the bus driver had to 
stop before the railroad tracks each morning on the way 
to school, checking for racing trains that would crush 
kids in the giant Crayola box bus; the kind of fear I felt 
when the first boyfriend I ever had broke up with me in 
front of his locker and slammed the door shut louder than 
a class of thirty closing their science books at the same 
time to annoy the substitute teacher; real fear. 

At the same time, I felt anger, for more likely than 
not, he was at a bar, nodding his head in that half-dance 
fashion to sweet jazz music and remembering when he 
used to write poetry for other girls. He could also be 
working late, his only escape from me and the little 
town he thought he could leave. 

The anger makes me imagine further details of his 
death, past the crash and into the crying, the funeral, 
cleaning bits of his life out of my closet. Gone are the 
Grateful Dead t-shirts — he was too old for them but 
stubbornly held on to this strange sort of past. I toss 
his novels, textbooks from the colleges he flunked out 
of, journals of dreams. I want all his clothes gone, and 
the bed we had. I want all new things. The posters he 
hung on the walls are ripped off as well. 

With great pleasure 1 throw away the few literary 
magazines he published in. He never wrote for me. He 
stopped writing when we met, as a matter of fact. The 
girls he used to put in poems took great pain in this 
fact, but it made me proud. Still, he clung to the 
remains of his lyric past. 

My anger transmogrifies to fear once again when I 
remember a particular girl of poetry. She had long 
blonde hair and always wore cut-off jeans and crop tops, 
crystals, and rings. She took a picture of Kendall in a 
bar one night when I was off to his left. If I was 
somehow included in that photo, I'm sure the left edge 
was cut off and discarded. I'm afraid of what she'll wear 
to the funeral. 

And then I concentrate on me. My life will change 
now that he's dead. I'll work more hours at the bank and 
flirt with the richest of customers. I'm young. I can 
marry again. I can forget him. The dream is almost 
pleasant. Fear and anger leave an aftertaste of hope. 

I wake up when a car pulls into the gravel driveway 

Wordeater 76 

two floors down from our apartment. He's home. 

He kisses me after he throws his coat onto an 
unidentified pile in the corner, then microwaves 
something edible and settles like sewage in front of the 
TV. When he comes to bed, I pretend I'm asleep. In the 
morning, when I want lo make love, he will do the 

Eric Jensen 


Don't tell me what I run from 
As you beat me in the race 
Don't tell me what I cry for 
As the tears inch down your face 
Your love was lost too early 
On a sleepless rainy night 
To scare a frightened child 
From his only glimpse of light 

Judy Belfield 


This cyclic illness 

begins where it ends, 

like the treadmill 

obsessions run; 

hope for relief 

is choked 

by the fear that 

all will begin again 

and again: 

a dread prospect 

which arrives with 


Sometimes, I tell myself 

I can crawl into the disease 

find its heart 

and squeeze it dead. 

I am aware, however, 

of my pathetic 




Summer/Fill 1991 

Dawn Mooney 

It's hard for me 

To write about 

People and situations 

In my life now 

Because stories 

Must have a conclusion 

And I hate 

To think of anything 


Martin Nieznanski 

Not many would trade 
Their places in life with 
Me, nor would anyone 
Share a delicate memory 
Of happiness with 
Me, for I am a brother 
Unto the shadows and 
Thusly must live in pain 


Maria Mellinger 


The sweet nicotine fairy 

Teases your lips in the back hallway 

When you're supposed to be at work. 

I listen through the ceiling tiles 

To you singing your love song to a Marlboro light. 

I'm quiet in my office, unable to flirt, 

Secredy learning to smoke. 

David Tieman 


Adults are 

Infants with a mobile of problems 

Hanging above their cribs 

Circling around their heads 

Except they no longer gaze in amazement 

At the colorful cartoon characters 

That promenade above them. 

Lisa Bucciarelli 


Chocolate peanut butter in a cup? 
— she shook her head 

(That must have been head.) 
Two scoops of vanilla with a twist? 
— No, thank you, Josh. 

(Hmm, must have been Carol.) 
Banana split with two spoons? 

(Ooops! Ooops! That was Sherri.) 
I got it! Cookies and cream in a cone! 

(Woops! That was Jeanette.) 
— Josh, I wanted mint chocolate chip. 

(Oh yeah, I forgot this was my new flavor of the 

Maria Mellinger 


Here in St. Cloud's there was lumber 

A saw mill with fresh glass windows, 

A whorehouse for the working men, 

Churches for the wives, hospitals for the births, 

Stories for each scar, each limb lost 

To a saw blade, each wife lost 

To a Saturday night in town... 

Each orphan abandoned like 

The stumps where trees once grew. 

There was lumber and life. 

New trees were not planted. 

New men couldn't grow from the children. 

The saw mill closed and teenagers broke the windows, 

The whorehouse was a ghost of good times. 

No one prayed in the churches or cried 

In the hospitals. Scars healed. Sawdust 

Disappeared like smog in other parts of the world. 

The orphans grew old. 

The trees returned like weeds. 

Breaking through the floorboards where the whores 


Reaching for St. Cloud's sky like the church steeple 


Leaning on their forefathers' broken bodies — 

The shimps turning to mulch for the young. 

Here in St. Cloud's there is lumber again... 


Wordeater 76 


Summer/Fill. 1991 

Jamie Stanek 


Dear God, 

You bastard. 

Letting innocent victims 
be captured and raptured. 
"Direful deeds for a 
faultless fiend." 
I may be irrational, or 
incoherent as form of shock. 
But you decide my words. 
I have no proofs, in this 
day of age. 

Martin Nieznanski 

"I painted him gold," she said softly as she showed 
me her rosary. "Cuz he's a superstar." 

I smirked, she kept dancing to the music playing in 
her head. She's been trying to get that rosary to turn in- 
to a snake ever since my mom scolded her for wearing it. 
Needless to say, it hasn't happened yet. Yeah, it broke a 
few times, but she busted out a pair of long-nose pliers 
and wrenched the thing together again. Ever since we 
got to the graveyard, she's been twirling the thing 
around like an old shoelace, waiting for the grand muta- 
tion from ordinary beads of wood to a poisonous servant 
of Jesus. I didn't feel like killing her good time, so I let 
her continue this bizarre activity, but maybe it was that I 
didn't want to get up. My mom really didn't like her to 
do that, you know, playing with her life in such a way, 
but there wasn't anything that could be done about iL 

"Ross," she said, "what the fuck am I supposed to 
do after you're gone?" Every ounce of seriousness was 
suddenly bom in her speech, even a dash of anger made 
itself known. I didn't know what to say, I had never 
been good with words. But I did know that Maria really 
wanted an answer, and she wanted it to be a damn good 
one too. She stopped her dancing. 

"Well," I said with an almost muted stutter, "what 
do we do now?" 

"That's not good enough, Ross. I know that we 
just hang, you know, but this is different. I mean, this 
time, when you're gone, you're gonc.I mean, I'll pro- 
bably never see you again. And I don't like that. It's 
not fair." 

I could have sworn that a tear jogged down Maria's 
face, her tone of voice was shocking enough, but cry- 


ing! I never even guessed that this touch chick was cap- 
able of showing such an emotion. I would have thought 
her to be a reckless Vulcan, but she didn't have pointy 
ears and she was born in Cleveland. Anger was building 
up inside her, probably because of my lack of speech. I 
had to say something good.. and fast 

"I'll be back on vacations, I'll come to see you 
then." I knew that wasn't good enough (maybe because 
the rosary kissed die pavement). 

The dead guy below, us was beating a broom on the 
ceiling of his coffin and all the birds flew away with an- 
ticipation of the coming storm. 

Maria was about to explode. She couldn't stay quiet 
for long, especially if she was mad. I anchored myself 
onto a nearby tombstone and awaited the coming tem- 
pest Suddenly I wished that I was one of those scut- 
tling birds. 

She must've taken a wrong turn someplace in her 
head because she never blew up, the hurricane never 

"Let's go," she said, and extended her arm to help 
me off of the ground. "This place is dead." 

We drove off and spent the rest of the evening 
throwing beer cans at the street signs and playing mail- 
box baseball. Some time during the night Maria said 
something about how Kerouac would really dig s, and 
she put the rosary around my neck. Around two in the 
morning, I took her home. She jumped out of the car 
and didn't even say goodbye. 

When I woke up in the morning, I packed up the 
rest of my stuff and headed off for college. 

I've been away for two years now, and I haven't 
seen or heard of Maria at all. Some nights when I'm 
alone I walk to the cemetery on the edge of town and 07 
to get that damn rosary to turn into a snake. 


David Tieman 


Glittering ball of disco 

Light spots turning about the room 

Couples in a slow motion dance 

Under the strobe light 

That flashes into our eyes 

And blinds us for a moment 

As we turn 

Round and round 

Spinning ourselves silly 


Summer/Fall. 1991 

Martin Nieznan ski 


Soft feathers slice the throat of sleep 

Awakening revives reality so deep 

Night is the Mother 

Father, the slumber that left us 

Awakening the birth 

Day is life with little worth 

Evil harlequin of the day juggles 
Every aborted one that Father stole 
Night calls out no objections. 
Mine Mother, 
How I am proud of thee 

Frank Sanchez 

Beneath the pallid moon 

Within the month of June, 
I heard the distant call. 

The sudden winds of change 
Seemed so cold and strange, 

Injecting thoughts of Fall. 
New forebodings, my discarded past, 

Paradise that wouldn't last, 
Time that slips away. 

My eyes that weep streams of pain. 
The lack of strength to contain 

False contentment for another day. 
Icarus knew the surge of youth. 

The surge I seek, the urge for truth, 
To live in the open sky. 

Beyond false dreams, 
Beyond men's schemes 

Is where I wish to fly. 

Maria Mellinger 


Having learned to kiss 
From the best of television, 
I know that the scene 
Fades to black 
Before commercial. 
I'm unsure of how to act 
In the blackness though. 

Jim Miller 

Abuse me. 

Use me, 

Throw me away; 

I'll come back another day. 


Maria Mellinger 


"Is life worth living? It depends on the liver, and whether or 
not it comes with onions." 

— Mike Bray 
Zydeco Bray 
Makes music pray 
On her knees before the summer. 
It's his way 
Of saying, 

I wait for the day 
My soul bird of May 
Will worship at life's windowpane. 
Until then, Zydeco Bray, pray for me. 

Judy Belfield 


Our days have been 

picked clean: 

chicken bones 

wrapped in newspaper 

tied with string 

for the garbage; 

yesterdays given over 

with such abandon, 

so little care to their feelings. 

I don't know if I should cry 

or rejoice — 

the knowledge comes so sudden. 

The waste, 

how time did not wait, 

how long it takes 

to learn... 

I wonder if 


shouldn't be slaughtered. 




Summer/Fill, 1991 

C. K. Derrick 

I'm riding the 

California Zephryr 

From Chicago to Denver 

A silver snake 

Of stainless steel 

Speeding past 

Forgotten towns 

Abandoned depots 

Ever-present elevators 

I fell asleep 

In the Superdome 

After a dumb 

In-train movie 

I woke to see a 


Like none I've seen before. 

It rose over brown hills 

Of eastern Colorado 

And turned a 

Cloud front green 

A ball yellow as an 


Which painted the sky 

Every color 

From violet storm clouds 

To a red horizon 

The start of a new day 


David Tieman 


My kite 

Shaped like a bat 

Colored black 

With sticker eyes 

That I put on myself, 


Spoke to me 

And told me that he had to leave 

And fly higher 

But, I held the suing tightly 

Unable to let go. 



Eric Jensen 


She wore white when I met her 
Red when I loved her 
Blue when I left her 
And black when I died 

I played rock when I found her 
Jazz when I loved her 
Punk when I lost her 
And Blues when she cried 

Steven "jailbird" Custer 

When my parents' bitching finally became too fre- 
quent, I decided to pack my guitar, gather my friends, and 

Me, the girl, and the tiny baby boy, the immature 
drummer boy, the going-nowhere goody-goody, and the 
little skater boy piled into the car graciously (and un- 
knowingly) donated by my father and headed to the 

The immature drummer boy, who is often referred to 
as Myk, stole some car batteries and a generator from his 
step-dad to power our stolen hair-dryers, stereos and TVs. 

We lived in an abandoned grain elevator. The girl 
and I slept in the same bed, and her son slept next to us 
on a bed of his own. The going-nowhere goody-goody, 
who is often referred to as Paul (or Pigpen), sleeps with 
no one but himself, and refused to eat any meat; he 
wants to keep himself "pure." Myk slept with his 
drums and any cute chick he could pick up off the 
streets, and the Little skater boy, who is often referred to 
as Andy or "Jelly," slept with dreams of lamps and pave- 
ment under his wheels. 

We didn't celebrate any holidays, no Christmas or 
Easter, just birthdays and a very special day we called, 
"Depression Day." 

Depression Day was the anniversary of the death of 
our conformist selves. We dressed in black to show our 
respect for the people we used to be. We sat down to a 
stolen dinner and lit candles for the millions of children 
whose personalities die daily. 

We educated the boy ourselves, teaching him the 
beauty of poetry, the crime of politics, and the universal 
importance of love. 

The six of us have lived happily in this factory for 


20 Summer/Fill, 1991 

Stolen Freedom, continued 

Martin Nieznanski 

seven years now, and I can't see any of us leaving in the 
near future. Each of us has exactly what we want: I 
have the girl and the little boy, and they have me. The 
immature drummer boy has his Ludwigs and 1,000,000 
girlfriends. The going-nowhere goody-goody has no- 
where to go, and purity, and the little skater boy has his 
future and his skateboard. 

So, while the world puts its nose to the grindstone, 
the "stolen freedom family" lives, in peace, in an aban- 
doned grain elevator. 




I seek 

The lucky one 

Yielding a knife capable of 

Removing peoples' 

Daily masks 


On weekends 

when Daddy came home 

from Albuquerque 

or Portsmouth 

or wherever 

we all lined up 

for our share of attention. 

Like communicants with tongues out 

waiting for the body of Christ 

the six of us, 

Mom included, 

took our turns 

trying to outshine each other 

competing for the biggest share 

of his love. 

I don't know why; 

he didn't have any to give. 

We stumbled over each other — 

"Can I get you this," 

or "that," 

lavished concern on him 

to befit the gods — 

"Are you tired, Daddy?" 

"Does your back hurt?" 

"Did you eat well?" 

"What did you see?" 

Then Daddy would talk 

and talk and talk 

the Friday night away. 

We each tried 

to outlisten each other, 

competing for the love 

Daddy didn't feel. 

Saturday afternoon 

Wardejier 76 

he would ask about school 

sift out what he wanted to hear. 

That night he yelled 

about the bills 

and the messy house, 

how nobody did anything 

while he was gone, 

how useless and ungrateful 

we all were. 

Me and Frankie and Eddie and Melody 

would feel so bad; 

we'd failed again. 

Mom cried 

and Jeffrey would do his Jeffrey thing — 

mentally suspend himself in space somewhere 

nobody could reach. 

Sundays were taken up 

doing the million things 

necessary to get Daddy ready to leave again. 

Each of us tried to find 

the most important way to help 

competing for his love. 

Then he'd go. 

We all cried, 

tried to see who could cry the most 

even though he couldn't see. 

Afterwards, I'd feel relieved, 

then guilty. 

Nothing happened 
til the next Friday 
when Daddy came home again. 



Summer/FiU, 1991 


Donica Ram pa 

I close my eyes 
and see your face. 
Thoughts of you through 
time and space. 
The love I feel 
must wear disguise, 
I can leave no sign, 
no hint, no trace. 
Yet still I feel 
your silky kiss 
my hysteria 
in your embrace. 
Your hands caress 
Touch and heal 
night through dawn. 
Help me, hold me 
The heat I feel— 
your restlessness. 
Love like this 
Forever true, 
I close my eyes 
And think of you. 

Maria Mellinger 


You usually saw me 

Alone and sulking 

Or in the middle of an outburst. 

Most times I was quiet 

In my anger over the 

Normalcy of my surroundings. 

When you saw me yesterday 

With a friend 

Who was wearing 

A lop hat and trenchcoat 

You caught me unguarded 

And my strangeness 

Slipped her hand in yours. 

Dawn Simmons 


Raindrops tickled the window 

and blurred 

the world outside. 

The breath 

of the moon and the rain 

kissed the pavement, 

and teams of headlights 

played tag 

upon its shiny surface. 

Puddles shivered in fright 

as stormy winds teased them 

while I surrendered 

my tattered one-way ticket 

and eventually grew sick 

from riding in a seat 

facing backwards 

as if still watching you 

waving goodbye 

at the station. 

Maria Mellinger 

My depression dances into the room like an over- 
weight go-go girl bumping into the bureau, whacking 
the wardrobe, shimmy-shimming into what had been 
happiness. She giggles, so glad to be in my presence 
yet again. She's missed me. 

We talk, but I'm distracted by her constant move- 
ment She pulls up the photos I've so carefully arranged 
on my wall and spins with them. She attempts modem 
dance steps and falls, knocking over an entire hope chest 
on her way to the floor. In her embarrassment, she al- 
most leaves, but instead jumps up and down like a child, 
as if the entire dance was going as planned. 

If you could only walk in the room, she would be 
gone. She's so shy, especially in front of men. If you 
could walk in and take her place on my bed, she would 
crawl out the door, pretending to have dropped a sequin 
from her go-go costume, or perhaps a contact lens. She 
might peep around the corner after her exit, but if you 
stay, she won't return. 

The music I put on when I sensed her approach 
continues in the background. "Dear Prudence, won't you 
come out to play?" 

She dances and I answer no. Go away, go away, go 



Summer/Fill, 1991 

Scott Johnson 


Once upon a time... 

No, too cliche. 

The night was... 

No, that was in a movie 

I saw the other day. 

It was the best of times... 

No that was in something I read. 

I am having a little trouble 

Finding an original thought 

In my head. 

I am really in a stew. 

I fear I may get sued. 

Too many things I want to say 

Have been used before. 

I hope you don't think my book is a bore. 

It has gone through many, many stages. 

There aren't any words, 

Just lots and lots of pages. 

Steev Custer 


Driving me hysterical, 

like the sickening 


of a lonely, 

self-entitled drug poet. 

I am lost in the 

neighborhood pharmacy 

oblivious to the fact 

that I should leave through 

the "in" door, because I came in the 


Christopher Flowers 


Billy was wheeled into the operating room with a 
swarm of nurses running about and yelling out orders. 
Billy couldn't make out what they were saying, but it 
must have been terribly important for the din in the 
room was incredibly loud. He tried to point that out to 
one of the nurses, but he couldn't seem to speak, and he 
had trouble focusing on anyone for longer than a second. 
Billy desperately wanted these people to leave him alone 


so he could sleep. 

Billy's inability to sleep only caused him to linger 
on the fact that he was in a great deal of pain. He 
remembered riding his bike toward his friend's house and 
then deciding to take a short-cut through a local alley. 
The only problem was that a '78 Chevy decided to use 
the alley also. Billy remembered little after that except 
for being lifted into an ambulance that had seemed to 
arrive out of nowhere. 

Then for the first time, Billy grasped the situation. 
He was in the hospital. Along with the knowledge that 
he was in the hospital also came the knowledge that he 
was going to die, a common thought to most seven- 
year-old boys. Billy wanted to jump up and run out of 
the room screaming, but he couldn't It seemed his body 
had just shut down. And then it did. 

For a moment, Billy had an overhead view of his 
body on the operating table. The left side of his body 
looked oddly different, almost like a person he saw in a 
movie once who had been pulled out of a lion's den just 
before it finished him. There also seemed to be more 
blood surrounding him than he thought he had in his 
enure body. His leg, hip, and arm looked a little more 
crooked than they should have been, and he could tell his 
nose was broken. That would be the second time he had 
broken his nose. He knew his mother wouldn't be 
happy with him because of the fuss she had made last 
time he had broken it. 

His clothes were ripped and tattered and soaked with 
blood. It was Billy's favorite tee-shirt and he was 
disappointed. Perhaps with next week's allowance and 
the fifty cents his friend Tommy owed him, he could 
buy a new one. 

As Billy floated toward the ceiling, he began to 
wonder about his bike. Then, suddenly, he was jolted 
back, his eyes opened wide as they could. One was 
swollen shut. He looked at the young face of the doctor 
as she released a sigh and whispered, "Welcome back, 
Kid." The doctor then turned to the nurse and nodded. 
Billy heard the hiss of gas as he watched the room turn 
dark. He smiled, his lips brushing against spaces where 
teeth used to be. Billy finally got to go to sleep. 

The next day, Billy woke to find the majority of his 
body encased in plaster or bandages of some sort. The 
nurse entered and tended to Billy trying to make him as 
comfortable as possible with little success. As the nurse 
started to leave, Billy quietly asked, "How's my bike?" 

The nurse laughed. "I'm sorry, but I hear that it's in 
worse shape than you are." 

Billy frowned as he thought of all those words he 
was not allowed to say. Billy was very, very disap- 
pointed. All the following week, he thought of nothing 


23 Summer/Fill. 1991 

Billy's Biggest Disappointment, continued 

but the loss of his bike. "Stupid bike," he thought one 
day as he lay immobile in his hospital bed, "Of all the 
rotten luck. Now I'll have to wait until Christmas for a 
new one." 

Maria Mellinger 


I bought a package 

Of tears 

When I could no 

Longer produce 

My own. 

The instructions said 

To let them evaporate 

Until you come back, 

But I cannot afford 

The lifetime supply. 


Donica Rampa 


The moon is full tonight 

and my heart is empty — 

I am rooted here, 

Yet my arms reach to the sky 

and my voice screams at the stars. 

Take me to you, 

Take me to where you are — 

Don't leave me here 


stand along among these desolate matchsticks 

Singing a tune with no melody 

I want to see you, 

hold you, 
But I can't reach you — 

I'm not tall enough 
and you are there, with the moon 

smiling down at me, 
Don't smile that way. 

It makes me cry. 
I want to touch you, 
I miss you 

And it makes me cry. 

Wcrdeater 76 

Nicole L. Bymside 

You laughed as we walked 

Along a dirt path 
Surrounded by 
Feathery green hands 
That reached for us. 
Wooden fingers poked. 
Prickly little burrs 
Clung to our sweat-soaked tee-shirts 
As we made our way 
To a clearing. 

You bent to pick a wild flower, 
A fragile little weed. 
You told me to cherish it 

Not knowing I truly would. 

Steev Custer 


I got you drunk, 

and listened 

to your opinions 

of me and my 


and now I wish 

I would 've kept 

you sober. 

Maria Mellinger 

It was my first night as a headless woman. Things 
were going well. I wore my junior prom dress from 
high school with plenty of fake jewels. The makeup 
artist stuffed my bra with great success. The neck brace 
I wore was fitted with an alligator brooch and the black 
mask hiding my head worked like a charm. 

For thirty-five cents, children from Central Florida 
could peek into my cage. "Hollywood Starlet Decapita- 
ted in Hideous Jaguar Accident," the fake headlines out- 
side the tent read. Most of the kids didn't realize that a 
jaguar was also a car and so threw up their quarters like 
so much cotton candy on the ride home, dreaming of a 


24 Summer/Fall. 1991 

I, The Jaguar, continued 

great bloody woman with a neck stump and a claw 
caught in her throat 

"Forced to live life without a head." For that real- 
istic touch, an IV and fake oxygen tubes were attached to 
the neck brace. Hospital signs adorned the walls around 
my wheelchair. "No Smoking. Oxygen in Use." 

The first couple to see me were, my guess, from a 
trailer park in Southern Illinois or maybe Kentucky. "I 
saw this in The National Inquirer, Baby, I swear to God I 
did. Poor thing. How ya suppose she sneezes?" 

"Lady ain't likely to get colds, Mama," answered the 
man. "No boogers, neither." 

Next came hordes of children. Some gasped, turned 
white, and ran for their mothers. Others poked their fin- 
gers through the bars, not believing I was real. "She's a 
Muppet," yelled one. "Jim Henson's in there some- 

"She can't talk 'cause she'd sound like Kermit," 
agreed another. 

The more investigative of the children played a cle- 
ver game of Clue, staking out the single wall of bars, 
trying to see from an angle impossible because of the 
black curtains and hospital machinery. They would 
make loud noises, but I had been trained not to hear. 
They would spit, but I would pay no mind until a great 
gob of Bubble Yum smacked my skin — then I would 
brush it away. They would wave, and I would remember 
my teacher's words: "Never wave back. Ya wave and 
they know ya got eyes. Ya sit there and they think, 
'Damn, she really ain't got no head.'" 

At 8 o'clock, the exhibit closed for half an hour. 
"Nurse's orders," was the given excuse. I pulled off my 
black mask, changed, and traveled the fair incognito as 
myself. I ate a chili dog, won a bullfrog, and saw the 
World's Largest Rat — a wombat with a tail epoxied on. 

Over by the Elephant Ears and Cold Beers Stand 
stood the most beautiful man I'd ever seen. His hair was 
light brown, like a funnel cake, and sprinkled with gray 
like powdered sugar. His hands were large and strong; I 
just knew he could take aim at any object in the 
shooting gallery and never miss their marks. He had a 
nice butt, too. 

We stared at each other, like Cinderella and her 
prince. It was fairy tale love, the kind that can only 
happen at a carnival. 

My watch beeped and I knew I had to leave him. I 
turned to run, hoping my glass slipper would fall off in 
his path, forgetting I was wearing Converse. He 
followed for a few feet until a family returning 
triumphant from the goldfish games collided with him. 

Wordeiter 76 25 

I loved him even more as he stopped to pick up each 
floppy ten-cent fish that tried to swim on the hay-caked 

Minutes later, I was headless again behind the 
blackness. The children walked by. The tourists walked 
by. He walked by for a mere second, watching the 
headless Hollywood starlet, mourning the loss of her 
face as he mourned his lost love. "Never wave..." I 
thought "Ya wave and they know ya got eyes..." then 
he was gone. 

Thank god for my mask. No one could see me 

Eric Jensen 


You lonely soul 

I've grown too old 

I know not why you taunt me 

I shed your tears 

And sleep your fears 

And still your shadow haunts me 

Try not to speak 

Of what you seek 

And twists my heart's desire 

My lonely room 
Awaits your doom 
As hopes of joy retire 

Dawn Mooney 

For the first time 
After the sobriety 
Of a February funeral 
I took a drink 
Of laughter 
And then 

Immediately tasted guilt 
That eventually faded 
After a few more drinks. 


Summer/Fill, 1991 

Eric Jensen 


I fell to my death this morning 
As I mourned my expectations 
And dreamed my future falsely 
Irreversible sensation 

I buried myself this afternoon 
In a service held for one 
As I reached into my heart 
With hopes to touch the son 

I woke up from this dream to see 
A second chance for you and me 
And gripped it with my hands so tight 
And knew throughout that it was right 

Martin Nieznanski 


Every door is locked 
Every key is thrown away 
Every heart is broken 
Every couple is perfect 

Roses are always red 
Violets are always blue 
Scientists are always mad 
Cops always eat donuts 

Everyone lives and 
Everyone dies 
But I will never 
Come back to you 

Holly Bruns 


Three days ago, Sue and I embarked on this canoe 
trip to the Boundary Waters between the U.S. and 
Canada and we canoed and portaged eighteen miles the 
first day until we arrived here at Dog Mouth Rock (at 
least that's what it's called on the map that the packers 
gave us). Sue and I call it Bedrock. She's Betty and I'm 
Wilma, and we've been calling each other those names 
since we arrived here. 

Today, we have no excursions planned. We will not set 
out from our base camp at Bedrock to uncover some 
"spot of interest" which we find recommended on that 
same map. We've planned to spend the day sunning, 
swimming, napping, and reading. We are going to do 
something creative with the dehydrated mystery meals 
we've brought along. 

I'm sitting on the high spot on Bedrock watching 
Sue wash the dishes from our morning meal. She is 
bent over at the side of the lake at the bottom of 
Bedrock. My back and my knees hurt as I watch her in 
that position. It is peaceful, but not quiet 

I hear the wind sifting through the trees in every 
direction. The trees bend and sway, giving in to the 
wind, but they are not submitting to its force without 
verbalizing their distress at the agony of aching in their 
movement. They are stiff creatures who are happy with 
their stillness. Their voices emit the sound that all 
aching trees emit. A reverberating creak floats toward us 
on the insistent summer breeze. I hear the hollow sound 
of a pot banging against solid rock as Sue fumbles with 
the dishes down below me. I hear the sound of tin 
against tin as she throws the rinsed cups into the rinsed 
poL I hear the sound of an unfamiliar bird in the 
distance. But this cumulative sound is not noise. This 
is music. 

I am so content at the quiet, understanding 
connection that exists here between my friend and me. 
We don't have to talk to communicate. We are enjoying 
the challenges of living without watches and radios and 
the feeling of being needed by our bawling children. 

I am looking at Sue's hair, which is the color of 
brown khaki and curly and has a mind of its own. It 
hangs loose and long below her shoulders and she has a 
habit of gathering it up in a wad at the back of her head 
and then letting go of it as though she had just put 
elastic in it to create a ponytail. The reflective spongy 
hair springs wild the minute she lets go and travels in 
the directions it chooses. She doesn't notice. 

I curl myself into a sitting fetal position with my 
arms wrapped tightly around my legs and my chin on 
my knees and I just watch. 

The water of the lake is rippled by the same wind 
that forces the trees to change positions against their 
will. The water gives in to the wind submissively and 
they interface in some dance that causes the water's skirt 
to ruffle and sway. The water is the woman and the 
wind is the man. A powerful man who can induce 
nature to provide the music. 


Wordeiter 76 



Maria Mellinger 



— "Revolution 9," Lennon & McCartney 

Zydeco can't help but cry when Stan plays the 
guitar of Danielle. He cannot express his love in music. 
He carves his affection into walking sticks and the tops 
of canes, like the punk buoy once carved "T.S." into his 

Sean touches the guitar strings like he longs to 
touch the small of Danielle's back, tenderly, in soft 
song. Then he pounces on them as if the instrument 
were Zydeco and Sean a black cat, cursing the artist with 
bad luck and high fever. 

Zydeco bruises his thumb carving at such a jealous 
rate. He fashions a walking stick with Medusa's snakes 
traveling down its length, her snarling mouth and granite 
eyes blistering like Helter Skelter fingers. He covers the 
wood in brown shoe polish for an aged look, but the 
ink, too, bruises into a purple hue. 

He has only the summer to survive... 

Steev Custer 



For a moment you 

mesmerized me 

with your pretty frills. 

Little Peacock 

but as I sat, and watched you strut, 

and learned your nature, 

I realized you had little more use 

Than a fan. 

Maria Mellinger 


I've seen the doorway of the Dakota 
I've seen the side of James Dean's grave 
I've seen the Queen of Hearts cry out 
And beat upon her knave. 
But of all these sights of sorrow, 
Which you so fondly gave, 
None was as ugly as the photo 
You took of my heart betrayed. 



I spend one 
million credit 
hours a semester 
arranging words 
to say in so many 
different ways 
I'm lovely, 
so lonely, 
and lonely. 


Maria Mellinger 


I'm going to be okay. 

There are so many things in my life — 

A library of people, talk, silence, thoughts, 

Music, madness, movies, and occasionally TV- 

I hardly notice that you've been 

Checked out by another reader. 

C. K. Derrick 


I wish I could be 

In Colorado again 

Irresponsible and eighteen 

Climb Lookout Mountain 

Around one a.m. 

Sit above a switch buck 

Throw Coors bottles at cars 

Flee the country cops 

with their feeble flashlights 

They cannot catch me 

I reflect no light 

I am the rebel of anarchy 

In black, green, and camouflage 

I knew that mountain 

Like the lyrics to Radio KAOS 

Nothing could catch me 

Except maturity. 




David Tieman 


A tricycle gang 
Haunts these sidestreets 
Loud, obnoxious children 
A wicked treat 

Black leather jackets and t-shirts 

"The Broccoli Haters" on back 

Printed with pride in capital letters 

With the remains of their last white crayon 

Combat boots and sunglasses 
Earrings pierced through their noses 
Their leader stands a tall 3*8" 
With a rub-off tattoo of a rose 

Together they terrify 
Their neighborhood pests 
Nuisances on wheels 
A local hex 

Steev Custer 


He visits the 

nicotine fairy 

in the bathroom 

of the local 


But don't worry bout 

tobacco remnants, 



Lukemia could have plagued you nonetheless 

Eric Jensen 


Restless wounds unsettling me 

Set me free 

With your stare 

Let me hide in your eyes 

and die there 

Nicole L. Bymside 


Scream and yell! 
Scratch and bite! 
Make your presence known. 

Slap the bitches. 
Thrash the fools 
That try to steal your throne. 

Sever talking heads 
That claim to speak for you. 
Slice the throat of the past. 
Tear off the blue-collar noose. 

Cut out decrying tongues 
Gouge malevolent eyes. 
Chop commanding fingers 
That point to the end of the line. 

Kick down black doors of the future. 
Splatter narrow minds. 
Rape the whore of tradition 
That won't give you the time. 

Maria Mellinger 


I dance 

With a child's abandon 

Making circles, arms outstretched, 

Wishing for the dizzy spin to begin. 

I fall 

Like I always do, 

Breaking my selves in two, 

Personalities skittering away like ants 

When a Keds-clad foot destroys 

The anthill. 

Steev Custer 

(Self-Pity Sucks?) 

I had a friend once. But his batteries went dead right 
before my high school graduation. I got mad at him for 


Worduier 76 


Summer/Fill, 1991 

Paragrapoem 2, continued 

not opening his eyes and talking, so I threw that rotten 
Ruxpin down the staris, shattering him into a million 

I had a girlfriend once, but when she realized that I 
had lied, that I really wasn't PeeWee Herman and that I 
didn't have a quazillion dollars, she ran away with some- 
one claiming to be Donny Wahlberg. 

I also had some control in my life once. I would go 
and sit in the big leather chair and explain that I didn't 
want to play the big "game" of Life. I often stated that I 
wanted to trade in my pewter dog game piece and opt for 
the top hat, or the gallant soldier atop the horse, but to 
no avail. 

I had some hair once, but I cut it all off to pretend I 
was someone else. 

David Tieman 


Cast a shadow upon my past 
Darken my dreams of yesterday 
Stand tall in the evening sun 
And make my loneliness go away 

Rise above me and protect my flesh 
Relieve me from my sunburned stress 
Crowd my mind with visions long gone 
Sing me a contagious song 

Dawn Mooney 


The nights 

Were a whirlwind 

Of streetlights 

And headlights 

Of drinking 

And danger (of our own creation) 

Of searching 

For some kind of eternal happiness 

But finding 

Only a temporary buzz. 

Martin Nieznanski 


Life conceived upon a table 

Travels great distances to acquire knowledge, 

Pity it does not know that 

Wisdom lingers in the grave. 

Maria Mellinger 


Michael Patrick Luttrell 

Danced into everyone's poetry. 

We gave him our love 

With affectionate words 

And rhyming kisses. 

He returned the favor 

With his dances 

Dreams and wishes, 

But he had no love 

To give to himself. 

No dances he can do alone — 

He appears in our poetry 

Never in his own. 

Martin Nieznanski 


I seek a pardon from thee. 
Mine Mother, 
For I am not so proud of 
Your decisions 

Cast into this world of pain 
I know not if my fate is 
Worse than that of my 
Aborted brothers and sisters 

I seek the controversial methods of my 
Father, hoping to learn all that he knows, 
When I am master at his practices 
Revenge for my cheated siblings shall be felt 

Mine Mother, the Night, 
With a bottle of caustic fluid 
I shall bum you, and myself, 
Just as the Father has 



Summer/Fill, 1991 

Dawn Mooney 


You filled my head 
With R.E.M., Sting, and Snoopy 
And we discussed John Lennon 
As though he were a personal friend 
We spent the early spring 
In various Volkswagen models 
And dreamed of a road trip 
To Funk's Grove 
Amidst the flowers and therapy 
It was so easy to forget- 
But when 

Death, girlfriends, and social protocol 
Were forced back into the picture 
The flowers wilted. 
Our garden 

Will never flourish again 
But I'll always remember 
That one warm season 
Of growth 
That saved me from myself. 

Maria Mellinger 


"Tao strains — he looks almost pornographic." 
— Bob Dylan, Tarantula 

Zydeco stood at the elevator in the museum. He 
was in the process of making pottery shards and artifacts 
in his atelier. It was a pleasant diversion from such 
modem art as soup cans and suits of money, and today 
he was on his way to the Egyptian room of the history 
museum. He wanted to study a mummy and read when 
he returned to the studio. 

Across the hall a couple was arguing. The man 
snarled at the woman like the saber tooth tiger behind 
him. She stood there, simple as the Dodo bird in the 
next room, innocent and confused, about to become ex- 
tinct. Zydeco averted his eyes in the proper, polite fash- 
ion when the man left, probably to stalk his prey in the 
parking lot, while the woman found her way to the ele- 

The man, the only passenger in a car that carries 
two, got on to Lake Shore Drive swearing and swerving 
in traffic. The passengers of the elevator car, Zydeco and 
the woman, kept their silence, though she sniffled and 

cleared her throat several times. 

In the Egyptian room, the artist sketched a plan for 
a broken poL The woman, studying the form of another 
woman, bound in a similar fashion, blind just like her, 
mummified with her vital organs removed and carefully 
wrapped, whispered, "If only my heart were in ajar..." 

Steev Custer 

I remember flying down side streets, through 
parking lots, off staircases, and over large, wooden 
structures. I flew every day for two years, letting 
pavement occasionally reach out and kiss my knees, 
elbows and back. Sometimes, I flew high and fast, 
sometimes I flew just to fly, going on about my 
business, not caring what the world had to say. 

I got arrested for flying once. They beat my best 
friend and took away our wings, and pinned me to a 
wall. And then those silly fuckers tried to tell me that 
flying was a crime. 

Late last year, a large purple plaster weight quickly 
stopped my flying. The doctors told me I'd never fly 
again. I spent months tied to the earth playing endless 
games of Nintendo, determined to fly high again. 

The day came after the weight had been cut off, and I 
decided to fly. I started slow, anticipating the feeling of 
flying before I ever left the ground. It felt so warm and 
comfortable just to be attempting. So close to flying 
again, but not quite achieving. 

In an instant, my mind snapped. I knew I had to 
leave the ground soon. I prepared for take off. I lifted 
my feet off the ground with fury to power me into the 
air. The greatest shot of pain I've ever felt shot through 
my leg, causing me to meet the concrete with a scream. 

It's been six months since that evil purple weight 
was cut off my leg, and I still don't fly like I used to. 
People tell me I should just quit, but I never will, for 
some day I shall return to the sky. 

Eric Jensen 


Trying to cram one lifetime 
Into a century at most 
Causes us to overlook 
The purpose of our host 

Wordater 76 


Summer/Fill, 1991 

Steev Custer 

This writing warm puppy dog, with his legs of ball 
point pen and paper composed body, jumped on my bed 
in the middle of the night. 

"I need my sleep," I wearily say to him. "I've been 
up drinking coffee with a sort girl in a 24 hour 
restaurant" But he keeps licking me with his thesaurus 

So, to suppress his need, and mine too, I write a 
poem with insomniac undertones and send him away to 
his notebook for an evening of pleasant dreams and 

Last night, as I slept, I dreamt you were in my 
arms. I could feel your body next to mine, and your 
kisses fell gently upon my neck. It was the kindest, 
most gentle sleep I've known, and I never wanted it to 
end. But soon the alarm clock started its siren wail and I 
woke, realizing my mistake. I cried when I found you 
were not there, but I knew you wanted to be, so I drifted 
back to sleep to lay with you some more. 

Eric Jensen 


I long to fell forgotten 
By the people I remember 
Who stole their presence 
Clutching with times claw 
Did you "desert" on purpose 
Or by common flow of nature 
That causes us to grow 
And be torn apart 


Maria Mellinger 


"Also oozing into the acid mosaic at this time..." 
— Ed Sanders, The Family 

Zydeco sat in his bedroom stringing beads. The 
great artist had just quit his job, left his girlfriend for the 
summer, and read several Tama Janoqitz novels about 
slaves and New York City. He was living in Woodridge, 
Illinois, but his bedroom was another country. 

He listened to various remakes of the song "Helter 

Wordeater 76 31 

Skelter" while he bled the beads through a needle, 
impaling them on their threads. Later, he would paint 
over movie posters in psychedelic greens and beg stray 
punks for Naked Raygun t-shirts. A dawn that he did 
not know would wake him if he slept and demand a 
sunset in purple on the plasterboard. 

Life was, to quote a heartless woman the stray punk 
knew, "going well." 

David Tieman 


Sprinkled avenue 
Feathered with rain 
Washing away an accident 
And its haunting red stains 

Street lights shine 

Off of the Saran- Wrapped highway 

Spit on by the heavens 

And a society of decay 

David Tieman 


A once-filled playground 

Cries with emptiness 

Hiding the fear of losing 

Its small and worry-free children to time 

Deep within the cracked blacktop 

Maria Mellinger 


"The ice cream truck in my neighborhood plays 'Helter 


— Steven Wright 

Zydeco picks up his charcoals to sketch my bum 
mood, but finds his paper is not large enough. He 
moves towards his empty wall to create a mural and it, 
too, is tiny in comparison. My emotions accidentally 
topple a tripod with camera, set there for photos of art in 

I attempt to write a story of anguish, but am unsure 


Summer/Fill, 1991 

Zydeco — Means of Perception, continued 

of point of view. I cannot know what Zydeco sees. He 
is blind to me. You have no interest in art. 

I escape the artist's den in an objective mood. No 
thoughts are revealed. 


Martin Nieznanski 

















Worduto 76 































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